Exclusive interview by TRT World with His Holiness Karmapa in Paris

Transcript by ANI SHERAB

Edited transcript. Source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szHkCdy_PFQ&feature=youtu.be

TRT World

Hello and welcome to One on One. I’m Sourav Roy, and I’m in Paris to meet the Karmapa, the man who may well become the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Currently that position is held by the Dalai Lama. In 2014 the present Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso announced that he may be the last Dalai Lama ever, and there would be no more successors. The reason? − Well he feared that the centuries old tradition on the Dalai Lama might come to an end, if his successor or incarnate was born in Chinese controlled Tibet. That would give China a free hand in bringing up the Dalai Lama as its own mouth piece, and this is what precisely happened in the case of another high lama, the Panchen Lama.

So where does the Karmapa come in? He is the head of the influential Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. His name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and he is the 17th Karmapa. Born in 1985 and at the age of seven he was identified as the next reincarnate. When he was 14 years old he fled from Chinese controlled Tibet into India. That annoyed China as it had already recognized him as the only living Tibetan Buddha. Now, when the current Dalai Lama passes away, many believe millions of Tibetans will have only one person to turn to: the Karmapa.

Sourav Roy: Your Holiness, welcome to One on One.

HH Karmapa: Thank you.

SR: You have been Karmapa for more than two decades and you’ve got millions of followers now. But in the last two decades the world has changed. What you think, are your main challenges now?

HHK: The first time I heard that I have become the Karmapa, that time I had very simple idea about Karmapa. Maybe, when I become the Karmapa, I will get more toys or more people will play with me. But later I found out that it is not the case. You are being restricted in a very traditional environment and you cannot live a normal boy’s life. And then I came to India leaving my parents, my friends and everything in Tibet, coming to this unfamiliar country with lots of political things as well, suspicions involved. I think sometimes I really lost the way, lost the direction. Why did I need to come here, you know? Of course traditionally the Karmapa has just spiritual responsibilities, but now in the world, because lots of things have evolved and lots of things are happening in this century, people need different guidance. Not just simply religious guidance, but people need different instructions, maybe different sort of way of thinking. And then I think my responsibilities have become more difficult or more complicated. I feel like that.

SR: Right now we live in turbulent times; there is war and terrorism everywhere. Whether you look at Syria, whether you look at Iraq, Yemen, there is unrest in Europe as well. Do you really think that the formula of compassion will work?

HHK: I believe that the sympathy or maybe we can say empathy or compassion is hard-wired. It’s kind of inborn quality. We human beings all have this kind of noble qualities. But I think due to circumstances and situations, maybe you can turn it off or maybe we can become less compassionate. Then become very aggressive. None of them is born into terrorism. Maybe due to their environment and circumstances they have become very aggressive. That’s why we should go back to the very basic issues: what we can do to improve and build the environment, so that they can nurture their sympathy or compassion. Because they need that kind of environment and space. Like we do with language skills. We all have language skills, but we do need this kind of environment or space where we can use that. Otherwise, if a child spends years in a remote place and nobody is there, then I think he will forget all human languages. Something like that. I think we should go back to this very basic issue.

SR: One of the very direct results of war in terrorism is millions of refugees around the world, and we noticed that countries are closing their doors. How do you expect people to open their hearts then?

HHK: I think... of course the refuge crisis has also become a big issue in European countries. But I think to accept the refugees is not the only solution, if you don’t solve the problem on the very basic level like in the Middle East. Something happened in the Middle East. Maybe that is responsible for a lot... You know, different countries, maybe some western countries also have some responsibility. If they don’t take care of that issue, then I think this kind of refuge [problem] and the suffering will continue. That’s why we should go back to the basic issue to see what is happening in their countries, in those war zones and Middle Eastern countries, and see what we can do there, could we make some change so that those countries become more peaceful and more harmonious with each other. Maybe that is I think the very basic solution.

SR: We are also seeing another extreme of lots of Buddhist monks going on rampage in Myanmar killing rohingya refugees and also that a lot of Buddhist followers are carrying out self-immolations in Tibet or outside Tibet. Do you basically agree with these expressions of anger?

HHK: I think Burma or Myanmar issue is very sad. I saw some stories and news. I think that any monks or Buddhist practitioners involved in this kind of conflict − you can say it’s violent activity − it’s not acceptable, because we know that Buddha is the symbol of peace and compassion and we are the followers of Buddha. In any kind of circumstance we can’t give up this kind of principle, teaching of Buddha: the compassion. We should believe in compassion and peacefulness. And also especially for monks to lead this kind of conflict... I don’t know what to say. This not just affects his own reputation but it affects the reputation of all Buddhists. That is very bad idea and bad action. And also the self-immolation related issues, I am continually − from the beginning until now − I continually appeal that people should cherish their lives. For one thing we Tibetans as a minority should continue to live for the Tibetan cause. And even though they are not harming other people, but they are harming their own precious human life. Some of them are mothers of four or five children. It’s very sad. It’s not like people saying: “Oh those great heroes and heroines.” That kind of praise is not enough to my opinion. We need to understand their sufferings and that of their families and friends. And also, even though they are dedicating their lives, we cannot see the results. That is the saddest thing. That’s why I think we should stop the self-immolation.

SR: You are an inspiration for many people around the world, and in times when there is hatred against one religion versus the other, especially when there is Islamophobia spreading its tentacles around the world, how do you bring compassion for people who bear Islamophobia? How do you tell them that all the religions more or less have the same teachings?

HHK: One way it’s very difficult. When I saw those stories or news, I also sometimes had a hard time generating compassion for them. But I think one way maybe it’s quite easy, because their mind is brainwashed or maybe they are given what we call wrong views. Maybe they are controlled by those kinds of very disturbing emotions: anger and hatred. Too much hatred, too much ignorance, that’s why I think we should be more compassionate for them, because they are in this way very ignorant and hatred filled circumstances. Like we also sometimes become very angry and at that time we lost our way. We just become another person. And then we do big mistakes. I think they are in the same situation. Maybe they are brainwashed or manipulated or something. So I think, one way maybe it’s easy.

SR: You are one of the very few global religious leaders who support women’s rights and women’s equality. Very few religious leaders in today’s world do that. Why do you do this, and do you think the day would come when we would see a female high lama, maybe the next Karmapa or the Dalai Lama as a woman?

HHK: Why did I need to do this? I think... maybe because of my mother. I have not been able to see my mother for almost 16 years. I can’t do anything for her, because she is too far away. But I think maybe to do some service for females at large. I think it kind of symbolizes my gratitude for my mother. It’s the kind of motivation I have. And of course in the future... at the moment Tibetan people are not ready to accept a female Dalai Lama or female Karmapa, maybe they are not ready, but maybe in the future. I think it’s possible, because in the reincarnation system we don’t deny any form of reincarnation, whether it’s male, female or animal or any kind of reincarnation. It’s possible. That’s why I think it’s not a problem.

SR: His Holiness the Dalai Lama has already announced that there might not be another Dalai Lama after him. And given the fact that the Panchen Lama is under house arrest, millions of Tibetans around the world are looking towards you to be their supreme leader. Do you think that’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility?

HHK: I don’t see extra pressure, because I can’t be the sort of what people are talking about... as the next Dalai Lama or something like that. The next Dalai Lama? Only the 15th Dalai Lama could be the next Dalai Lama.

SR: What about Your Holiness as a supreme leader?  

HHK: Yeah, I think it’s... of course we are among the young leaders. We may have responsibilities for the Tibetan people, future and the Tibetan cause. But I think I am already the Karmapa. Karmapa it’s already in the Tibetan history, it has become very important. And also historically it has the longest history. That’s why I think if already being the Karmapa I can play that role properly, then that is good enough. I can’t be in another sort of position, it would be very difficult because I already feel very heavy and I can’t take extra sort of responsibility.

SR: But when the time comes, people don’t have any option, they will turn towards you.  

HHK: Yes, people have their freedom and it’s up to them. But I’m speaking for myself, because I am... you know... still a human being.

SR: No-one is clear, especially in the western world about the whole system of reincarnation. You became the Karmapa when you were seven years old. Your own story of being the next reincarnate of Karmapa − what does that tell to cultures and societies that do not know the importance of reincarnation, and what’s the meaning, message out of it?

HHK: When I was the age of seven, the search party came. They first interviewed my parents. That time they didn’t say anything. But the second time they came, then that time they told my parents: “Your son is the reincarnation of the Karmapa,” because they had the letter left by the 16th Karmapa. The letter mentioned which place, which sort of direction, then the parents names. Everything is mentioned in the letter. That’s why your names, everything, is according to that letter. That’s why we think you are the Karmapa. Of course within the Tibetan tradition there are different ways of recognizing a reincarnation, but this is our sort of own tradition, or way of recognizing a reincarnation. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, I think it’s kind of [way] to choose somebody to give a sort of responsibility, or to build a big opportunity to serve the sentient beings. I think this is the message, because even though you are an ordinary person, but if you have this extraordinary heart or motivation, then you can serve the entire humanity.

SR: We get to see news around the world and we see that the Tibetans are now flushed with wealth and there is so much material comfort over there. Do you think that Tibetans are now forgetting the cause?

HHK: Maybe not. Of course they have lots of material progress, material development there. One way the people are not satisfied that there is only material development. What they need is more access, internal freedom. Their need is very basic freedom, religious freedom, freedom of speech. I think those are the very important matters and things that are needed. I think material development can bring just some temporal comfort and temporary satisfaction, but people need long-term happiness and satisfaction more than material development.  

SR: You are announced to be a leader, who is from an ancient tradition, but you have a very modern outlook, and you are concerned about the planet, you are concerned about planet change. Right now we are in Paris and there has been heavy downpour, there has been flooding and we see extreme weather conditions around the world, including Tibet. What concerns you for the planet?  

HHK: I think lots of the climate change, environmental disasters or issues are man-made. We human beings have the responsibility and I think we should understand that, because otherwise it’s very difficult to have a positive change. And also I think everything like media, this information are increasing our human greed and human desire. That’s why we should control our desire. We should understand what we want and what we need, differentiate between them. Because we want everything, actually, but what we need maybe little, not that much. Natural resources have their limitations, but we don’t have a limitation... human greed... we don’t have limitation. That’s why we should control it; otherwise it will become big disaster.  

SR: This will be a fun question. I’ve noticed clips of you playing on your laptop and I know you are a big supporter of tech as well. Do you WhatsApp the Dalai Lama?  

HHK: Not really, not really, because I don’t think His Holiness has WhatsApp. I don’t think His Holiness has smart phone. I am not really contacting them on a daily basis. If I need something maybe I go through the official lines. But I do see, it’s a very important matter, because now things changed, we can’t be very traditional I think we should have this kind of new access, so that we can have more direct connection or contact. Yeah, it’s very important.  

SR: So you think it’s time to switch from telepathy to telephone, for you, is it?  

HHK: Yes, yes.  

SR: So the world comes to the Karmapa to learn from the Karmapa. Would you learn from your followers? 

HHK: I think until now I can continue to take this responsibility or maybe you can say play the role of the Karmapa. Until now I have survived. But the biggest reason I can survive is because of the support and love given by the followers and friends. That is the main source of energy.  

SR: Your Holiness, thank you so much for joining us today.  

HHK: Thank you so much. 

Source: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ani-sherab/exclusive-interview-with-the-17th-gyalwang-karmapa-ogyen-trinley-dorje/10204683225759076

TRT World's Sourav Roy talks about his interview with Karmapa
Exclusive: Interview with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Exclusive: Interview with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje on refugee crisis
Exclusive: Interview with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje on islamophobia
Exclusive: Interview with Ogyen Trinley Dorje about becoming the next leader of Tibetan Buddhism
Exclusive: Interview with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje on ethnic conflict in Burma
Exclusive: Interview with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje on women's rights


  1. Dear Administrators of this blog, Kindly share all the clips on your Facebook page as well. Cheers,
    Sourav Roy

  2. Thanks for sharing nice video, It is very excellent article information
    Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Power of Unbearable Compassion - Lion's Roar

Origin of mantra Karmapa Chenno

His Holiness 17th Karmapa’s First Visit to UK & Palpung Wales on the Road - Palpung Changchub Dargyeling

On Confidence in the Dharma: An Interview with H.H. the 16th Karmapa (Densal)

The Voice of America Interviews the Gyalwang Karmapa

Hwayue Foundation: Notification on the Cancellation of the Diamond Sutra Teaching - teaching by HH the 17th Karmapa

The Benefits of Veneration at Rumtek Monastery

Rival’s marriage strengthens Dorje’s claim for Karmapa title - Hindustan Times